www.capetown.at Roddy Bray's Guide to Cape Town  
Click for Home Page
Click for Cape Town City Guide

Click for Heritage
SA Flag - Click for MP3 downloads
Audio Guides
Click for Directory of Cape Town Weblinks
Penguin at Boulders - click for Photos
Click for Storyletters

European Settlement
(page 7)
Cosmopolitan Cape Town
The streets of Cape Town in the 1700s hummed with extraordinary diversity. VOC employees were drawn from all over northern Europe - Scandinavia, Russia, UK, France, Switzerland, Germany and Holland. As the 1700s progressed the VOC employed more Asian sailors - Indian, Javanese, Chinese.

Senior VOC officials behaved and dressed with great pomp. By contrast, VOC soldiers formed a rough underclass, often involved in brawls with sailors living it up in the taverns (more...)

The oppressed slave population added further to the diversity. Cape Town's slaves had origins in Eastern, West and Southern Africa, Madagascar and Mauritius, Ceylon, India, Malaysia, Indonesia and elsewhere.

In addition there was a growing population of mestizos - from the pregnancies of female slaves or Khoe women by European sailors and slave owners. In the early years of the settlement there were cases of marriages between Europeans and slaves whom they had emancipated. There were also cases of slaves having illicit children by Khoe women (more...)

Apart from the slaves, there was a much smaller group of 'free blacks' - people who had been released from slavery and Asian ex-convicts who had completed their sentences and remained - usually because they had no means to return home. Others were simply non-Europeans who had, for whatever reason, stopped and settled at the Cape. There was a small immigrant Chinese community, for instance, that dominated candle making.

There were, however, less than 400 free blacks at the end of the century, although they dominated the fishing industry and also worked as artisans. They enjoyed the same status as free burghers (citizens) and were free to live anywhere in the town. It is clear that they socialised freely with burghers, officials and sailors in the taverns.

Some free blacks owned property and were better off than some burghers, although, in general, they were worse off than most Europeans because they started with no capital. Only at the end of the eighteenth century did some discrimination develop and they were legally required to carry passes, like slaves.
Go to the next page >>>>>>

© www.capetown.at 2008. You may print this article for personal use; if for reproduction please acknowledge 'www.www.capetown.at.co.za'. You may not use this material for any electronic media except with written permission. www.capetown.at accepts no responsibility for inaccuracies or the work of service providers.


Heritage Sections
· Culture ·
· Environment ·
History · Society
Personalities · Areas

In this period of Cape History:


The First Years

A Town Develops

Simon v.d. Stel

VOC Control

Frontier Expansion

Cape Town in the 1700s

Cosmopolitan Cape Town

The Boom of the 1780s

The VOC Legacy

Bibliography & Contacts


Return to top